Manga Review: “Dawn of the Arcana” Volume One

Dawn of the Arcana Volume One is a manga by Rei Toma, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2011. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.

The main character of Dawn of the Arcana is Princess Nakaba, who has been forced to marry Prince Caesar of Belquat. Unfortunately, Nakaba stands out due to her red hair, because royalty is expected to have dark hair; other hair colors are associated with commoners. Marriages between Belquat and Senan royalty were made, in the hopes of bringing peace to their lands; unfortunately, the peace never lasts long. At the beginning of the volume, Caesar treats Nakaba as a possession.

Nakaba is escorted by Loki, an Ajin (which is an underclass that works as slaves); Loki is very protective of Nakaba, which causes him to get into scuffles with Caesar and the royal palace. In a flashback, we learn that Loki has been with Nakaba since she was a child.

Over the course of the volume, a love triangle seems to develop between Nakaba, Caesar, and Loki. This triangle comes to a head near the end of the volume.

Dawn of the Arcana seems to be developing a rather “typical” shojo story, but the fantasy setting for the series does help to make it feel a little more unique compared to other shojo manga that I have read. Volume One of this series does a good job of establishing both Nakaba and Loki as characters through the course of the volume. While Caesar also gets some character development in this volume, it comes during a very small section right near the end of the volume.

When it comes to the art in Dawn of the Arcana, I have to give Toma a lot of credit for giving her characters very distinctive looks. By being able to make her characters looks so distinctive, I’m not getting characters confused because they look so similar.

Volume One of Dawn of the Arcana does an effective job of laying the groundwork for the story that Toma is wanting to tell. While this may feel like a “typical” shojo story to start, there is the potential for the story to become something more in future volumes of the series. This is a series I wouldn’t mind continuing in the future if I come across other volumes of it in order to find out whether or not the story can progress into something more than a typical shojo love story.

Personally, I think manga readers who enjoy shojo manga and fantasy stories will probably be interested in reading Dawn of the Arcana.

I wrote this review after checking out a copy of Dawn of the Arcana Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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